Saulsgiver leads Patriots past Peru

PERU - In a dramatic back-and-forth game, AuSable Valley fended off the Indians 44-43 to remain undefeated in CVAC girls basketball Jan. 15.

Senior guard-forward Zoe Saulsgiver had her biggest game of the season, hitting four three pointers on her way to score a game-high 24 points for AuSable Valley.

The Patriots shot the lights out in the first half, starting the game with a 9-2 run. With four straight triples from Saulsgiver and Michelle Taylor, they would build their lead to 20 before the Indians cut it to 10 at halftime.

Peru would come out strong in the third quarter scoring 10 unanswered points to tie the game at 27, but Saulsgiver then scored 9 straight points to lead a 12-0 run by AuSable Valley that ended with a buzzer-beating layup from Jessie Walton.

That lead would dwindle in the fourth quarter as the Indians relied on the strong post play of Kara Hackett, Alex King and Emily Decker. The three 5'10" forwards scored all of Peru's 14 points in the fourth quarter as they took a 42-41 lead with under 1:30 left to play.

Hackett finished as the leading scorer for Peru with 16 points and 11 rebounds. King added 9 points.

Saulsgiver kept AuSable Valley in the game, hitting a crucial 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining; the only fourth quarter basket for the Patriots. King then hit a pair of free throws for Peru, but a violation negated the first.

Up by one with 15 seconds left, Saulsgiver forced a jump ball to give the Patriots possession and then blocked a last second shot attempt by Peru.

AuSable Valley improved to 9-0 in conference play with the win. Peru dropped to 7-2 to fall behind in the three-way race for the Division I title.

"I thought [Peru] did an excellent job defending Alexis Coolidge," said AuSable Valley head coach Roger Long, "but Zoe Saulsgiver really stepped up. She did an excellent job of keeping them at bay while keeping us on top."

Coolidge, the CVAC's leading scorer, finished with only six points but had eight rebounds for the Patriots. Alexis Facteau was also strong on the boards with seven rebounds.

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